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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 237,972 182,848 147,700 21
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,790 2,500 2,530 92
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 164 - (26/02/11)

The Middle East in turmoil
The Turks are naturally astounded at the turn of events in the Middle East of late. Their reaction is mixed. On the one hand they welcome the trend towards democracy, which they have pioneered themselves in the region. But they are scared that religious fanatics could come to the fore. The worst-case scenario is if this happened in Egypt, with a government coming to power bent on renewing strife with Israel.

The Turks are for keeping right out of Middle Eastern conflicts; their parliament refused their closest military ally, the US, any assistance in the Gulf War, a decision that looks the wiser, the longer it goes on. The Israelis would of course give the Egyptians a walloping, if they were so foolish as to invade Israel. This is unlikely; but a ‘cold peace’ can be a nasty affair. The peace pact with Israel, engineered by Kissinger and Sadat in 1973, is of course a deeply unpopular one in Egypt. Indeed Sadat paid for it with his life.

The Turkish government is itself religious in persuasion, but of a moderate kind. It would not be happy to see a Sunni Khomeini come to power in Cairo.

Erdogan in Ukraine
The Turks are looking northwards as well as southwards. There they see more hopeful, less fraught, opportunities.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan travelled to Ukraine on an official trip on January 24 and 25. He met with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.

Erdogan and Yanukovych signed a Joint Declaration for the establishment of a High Level Strategic Council between the two countries. Prime Minister Erdogan also participated in a meeting of the Turkish-Ukrainian Business Council in Kiev on January 25.

Does the EU beckon?
It is in a way curious that the Turks should so covet entry into the European Union (EU); but they do. Some of the most successful countries in Europe, Norway and Switzerland, have resolutely kept out of it. Yet nobody doubts for a moment that the original home of the Vikings, who were to conquer Normandy, England, Sicily and more, plus the Swiss pioneers of representative government and liberal democracy, (before even the English), are European.

This is not so for the Turks, only 5% of whose territory is in Europe and whose initial historical identity, as the leader of the Islamic world, was forged against Europe in the Middle Ages, indeed right up to the Young Turks just before and during the First World War, in which Turkey sided with the autocratic imperial powers of Central Europe.

But here is the rub. Out of that conflict came a final showdown between the Turks, led by Ataturk, the veteran of the Young Turks and Gallipoli, and the West, the victors of it, in the shape of an allied (Greek) expeditionary force in 1922, really seeking some territorial reward for having been on the winning side. The Turks, against the odds, won, as they had done at Gallipoli. Ataturk promptly adapted Turkey to the West, the clearest case in history of being transfigured by your enemy, whom you greatly respect.

Ataturk certainly transformed his country. He made it Western, introducing the most radical reforms in an Islamicist nation ever. Democracy, liberal rights, freedom of opinion all came onto the agenda. He should forever be remembered as a great reformer and pioneer.

He is; and this is why the Turks have turned so pro-EU.
They see membership thereof as confirmation of their status as Western.

They are right. All those of good will should support the Turkish cause. The Turks would add to the EU approach to dealing with the Middle East in its present crisis; who can doubt it? They are the supreme exemplars of combining and refining a rapprochement between East and West.

They are the ideal interlocutors at present between the West and the turbulent Middle East.

Speaking on Turkish private TV channel "Bugun TV" on Thursday, Egemen Bagis said that as the Turkish chief negotiator, he would not let Turkey, a very strategic country, be pushed around by some EU member states.
We have taken highly important steps since I took office, in harmonizing Turkey to the EU criteria. 27 new laws and around 200 regulations were adopted vis-a-vis the EU in Turkey, Bagis said.

Out of 33 chapters, 13 have been opened to negotiations with Turkey. Had there been no political obstacles, 29 chapters could have been opened to negotiations as Turkey made the necessary reforms, Bagis said.

“Turkey is now a more democratic, more rich and a more transparent country. Europe's interests make it a necessity for Europe to display respect to Turkey which it deserves”, Bagis also said.

 

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